By Lucy Ogalue
Mr Ehi Ebhohimhen, the Regional Business Executive, Sterling Bank, has stressed the need for bank officials to solicit for the Central Bank of Nigerias (CBN) intervention fund and subsidy for the road transport sector.
The Bank Executive, who said this in Abuja at the ongoing 3rd Annual Road Transport and Mass Transit Conference in Abuja, articulated all the challenges of the transport sector.
He said the call has become imperative to ensure that transport sector is re-positioned to meet the emerging challenges and have easy access to bank loans at lower interest rates and interventions like their counterparts in other sectors.
Ebhohimhen said CBN would not give money directly to individuals rather it would require a commercial bank to give some form of guarantee, monitor and ensure the fund was revolving
He for this reason banks must do the advocacy and policy articulation, to resolve the not lending issues.
On the high interest rates by banks,he said it was a structural issue which could be resolved with the right fiscal and monetary policies.
Ebhohimhen said the banks find it difficult lending money to transporters because of the high risk involved in the business.
He said considering the high interest rates, bad roads that have reduced the life span of vehicles and the like, it would be difficult for banks to risk depositors fund in the sector.
One of the things we have been pushing for is to have a separate intervention fund for theroad transport sector.
If this is done,it will ensure longer tenure and cheaper interest rates for the transporters.
Mr Aloga Odogbo, The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Road Transport (NARTO), noted that the intervention of government in business has always been a starting point to development.
He said the sector is faced with a lot of challenges and can only overcome these challenges with the help of the government.
Odogbo said the challenges being faced by the sector would be a thing of the past if government could provide intervention funds, subsidy and approved a Bank of Transport
Mr Suleiman Musa, official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), said the political will of government is very necessary to resolve the challenges in the sector.
Musa said it would go a long way to solve the national transport problem if government could subsidise the price of vehicles,fuel and fare.
Mr David Okoroafor, Executive Director Subsidiary, Peace Group, said things had not been easy for mass transit operations in the country due to increased cost of vehicles and bad roads in the country most companies barely make ends meet in the business.
He lamented that the prices of vehicles have increased by over 100 per cent in most cases as the vehicle they used to buy about N9million is now more than N26 million and we have been doing the mathematics on how we can make even and are yet to arrive at a solution.
Okoroafor said there is need for governments intervention because transportation is a risky business and banks are not too enthusiastic to fund the business.
He said with government intervention banks would be willing to open its window to invest in transport sector and give loans.
Mr Ralph Eke,Executive Secretary,Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON), also reiterated the need for government interventions in the sector.
Eke also urged the government to ensure reduced duty fee on buses to enable the transporters remain in business.
ALBON official also added that the deplorable state of the road has taken its toll on the sector by forcing many commercial vehicleowners to withdraw their vehicles from the road.
He said the roads across the country are so bad that most drivers are held up in gridlock for hours, limiting the number of movement and making them to spend a lot on repairs.
Most of the vehicles are now in bad shapes and costs of spare parts are too exorbitant; we are appealing to the three tiers of government to come to our aid by repairing the road. (NAN)